Catholic World News

Oklahoma priest recognized as first US martyr

December 02, 2016

In a December 1 audience with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis approved the publication of decrees that advance a dozen sainthood causes. Among them was a decree recognizing the first US citizen to be honored as a martyr.

In approving a decree on a miracle attributed to the intercession of Ven. Giovanni Schiavo (1903-67), an Italian priest of the Congregation of St. Joseph who ministered in Brazil, the Pontiff has paved the way for his beatification.

Pope Francis also approved three decrees of martyrdom, preparing the way for the beatification of

  • Father Vicente Queralt Lloret, a Vincentian priest, and 20 companions who were killed during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and 1937
  • Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis (1873-1962) of Kaisiadorys, Lithuania, who was murdered by Soviet security officials
  • Father Stanley Rother (1935-81), a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City who was slain while serving as a missionary in Guatemala

Finally, Pope Francis approved decrees on the heroic virtues of eight servants of God, who may now be honored with the title “venerable”:

  • Cardinal Guglielmo Massaia, OFM Cap (1809-89), an Italian missionary in Ethiopia
  • Father Nunzio Russo (1841-1906), an Italian diocesan priest who founded the Daughters of the Cross
  • Father José Bau Burguet (1867-1932), a Spanish parish priest who helped found the Valencian Apostolic Union
  • Father Mario Ciceri (1900-45), an Italian diocesan priest
  • Mother Mary Joseph (Suzanne) Aubert (1835-1926), the French-born foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion, who served for most of her life in New Zealand
  • Luz Casanova (1873-1949), the Spanish foundress of the Apostolic Ladies of the Sacred Heart
  • Mother Catherine Aurelia of the Precious Blood (Aurelia Caouette, 1833-1905), the Quebec-born foundress of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood
  • Sister Leonia Nastal (1903-40), a Polish religious of the Little Servants of Mary Immaculate


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  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Dec. 02, 2016 6:50 PM ET USA

    One can't help but wonder how many unknown martyrs of the faith exist. I suspect they are legion. Let us pray for and to them all, for surely the unknowns are carried in the pope's heart too.